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Leading with Impact

Powerful leadership increases productivity and sharpens a company’s competitive edge. When we talk of leading with impact here, we are talking about how it fosters a culture of conversation that leads to innovation in the organization.

Whether you are in a position responsible for Transformational Leadership, or engaged in bringing in clients in a Business Development role, or if you’re pursuing a career transition or career advancement, you want to show that you know how to lead with impact.

Here’s how to inspire, energize and motivate people in the organization to create more ideas and to produce more:

1. Ask good questions and listen.

The old school of leadership style is one of command and control – here are the rules, here are the goals, here are our initiatives. The pressure is on to produce results. While pressure is important for us to deal with, it is the CEO’s job to shield people from some of that pressure. Listen to what are employees’ concerns, listen to what they want to create, listen to what customers are asking for. That style of listening breeds freedom for input and has an impact on productivity and innovation.

2. Compile the input and make wise decisions.

After all that listening, compile the input that is provided by employees, customers and stakeholders. Make wise decisions and create new initiatives from that input. Give people credit for co-creating these. If people feel that they are a part of the initiatives they are now responsible for, they are ten times more likely to be comfortable and motivated to fulfill them.

What about you?
What questions might you ask to involve people in the decision-making process?

The Importance and Practice of Integrity

Edward R. Murrow, the late radio and television news broadcaster and President Kennedy’s head of the United States Information Agency, once said,

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”

Integrity is important in all relationships. If you are in a position responsible for Transformational Leadership, or engaged in bringing in clients in a Business Development role, or if you’re pursuing a career transition or career advancement, you want to be known as someone with integrity.

Integrity is the foundation of trust, reliability and stellar performance.

When we talk of integrity here, we are not talking about the morality of doing the right thing because what is the right thing to do is subject to opinion and values.

I’m certainly not against doing what you know is right, but for this conversation, the practice of integrity is keeping your word.

People know they can count on you as someone who does what you say you’ll do, and by when you said you would do it.

The second tenet of integrity is about restoring your word when you fall short. No one is 100% perfect. Sometimes we don’t come through with what we said we would, but we never want to leave people hanging and feeling like they deserve such treatment – like the impact to them doesn’t matter. If you are in any kind of leadership position, you are not going to get anyone to follow you if you don’t take care of what you say and the promises you make. Keeping and maintaining integrity is a practice without which you come across as sloppy at best.

Here is how to practice living with and restoring integrity:

1. Keep your promises and agreements, and be on time.
2. Communicate as soon as possible if something makes it impossible to keep your word.
3. Discuss the impact. It might be as simple as listening to what the other person has to say about it and addressing the matter in a way that makes a difference.
4. Make other arrangements or new commitments whenever there is a way to restore anything.

It takes courage, strength of will and practice to build and maintain integrity – not unlike the consistent commitment necessary to stay in shape physically. If you take this on with great rigor, you will stand out. You will also be building a great platform to set and reach bold goals and build high-performance teams.

What about you? In what area, pursuit or relationship will you step up your practices of integrity?

The Value of Self-Awareness

Articles ranging from Forbes and Business Week to Psychology Today all point to the importance of self-awareness as a critical to leadership performance. This is about being aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are and how they impact your performance and relationships.

If you are in a position responsible for Transformational Leadership, or engaged in bringing in clients in a
Business Development role, or if you’re
pursuing a career transition or career advancement, it is useful to improve your leadership skills.

Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 2010 looked at the interpersonal traits of 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion.
Among other things, it concluded that, “a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. This is not altogether surprising as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in categories in which the leader lacks acumen. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own.”

To get there,

A) get feedback – gather a few interviews, either directly or through an unbiased source, to see what patterns emerge, Ask people what are your strengths and weaknesses. This is sometimes called a 360-degree survey. It can be formal or informal –whatever you’re willing to commit to. The more thoroughly you do this, the more accurate the information will be.

B) take a personality profile like the DISC, Myers Briggs or my favorite, the Team Dimensions Profile (ask me about that) . If you’d done one within the last year or so, do another or review your report with someone on whom you can count to identify strengths on which to build and weaknesses to deal with proactively.

C) review your notes regularly - set up regular ways of reminding yourself of your important discoveries.

For more insights and ideas on this subject, listen here:

Tribute - Words for Robin Wiliams

Even as I was in Rwanda last week, I wasn’t too far from the news of Robin Williams’ passing. The loss of this great man touched the world.
Robin Williams always took on inspiring roles - from the early days of Mork and Mindy to films like Good Morning Viet Nam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and even the genie in Aladdin. He was a voice of tolerance, freedom and new possibilities.
I’m particularly moved by the following quote from his character in the film, “Dead Poets Society:” "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change this world."
I find it to be important to be careful about how we use words to describe, define and ultimately create new possibilities in our world. All too often, people have described a challenging situation or a negative experience using the positive verb tense, as in “He is such an asshole,” or “I am such an idiot.” It seems normal in our culture to speak this way, but new neuroscience discoveries confirm such language to be potentially damaging. We might create limiting definitions of situations and domains in our lives and in the lives of others. It limits the creation of new, positive possibilities while creating negative views and negative perceptions of people. Listen here for more insights on what to do instead.

Time for a Conversation

Have you ever found yourself getting stuck in your own head? In these situations, when is the right time to stop thinking on your own and start opening a conversation with someone else? Maybe right away?

To answer this question, I’d like to borrow a quote from American author, speaker, and activist in the field of self-development, Bryant McGill. He said, “We must understand that out of community and dialogue, the answers will arrive in their own time and way.”

Whether we are working on a challenge or approaching a bold goal, we all can get stuck sometimes. And this is the best time to open a conversation with someone that can help you come up with a solution or plan.

It could be with an employee, a colleague, a spouse or family member, a coach, a co-worker, a friend or even a stranger on a train. However, your best bet it so have relationships with people who are reliable to have conversations that lead to new ideas and new strategies. You may also have some people hold you accountable to reaching your own goals.

With any dialogue:

It is important to begin with what you want to have happen. What is the ideal outcome that you want to create?

It is your responsibility to make sure the other person is able to make a valuable contribution. From there, you want to listen very carefully and ask good questions. Value anything you hear, even if it seems strange to your way of thinking. See where it leads.

Once the conversation gets going, you will start to clearly hear ideas for the requests you have to make, the right plan of action and the best way to manage your time toward solving your problems and accomplishing your goals.

If you find yourself in a position of business leadership, business development or career transition, you will want to make sure to be the source of these kinds of conversations for other people. Are you someone who can help another person get unstuck with fresh perspective on their path to better solutions?

So what about you? What conversations are you ready to generate that will help solve your problems and lead to reaching bold, exciting goals?

Power of Patience

Being patient may be easier said than done, especially in this fast paced business world where most people value productivity over everything else. But whether you are in a position of transformational leadership, business development, or career transition, there is a special power to patience.

Here are three points on how you can access patience and the outcomes that you can expect:

Patience as Faith: Trusting that your goal or something even better WILL happen if your mind and resources are in alignment and you are totally committed to reaching that goal.
If you find yourself trying to force an outcome and it’s not working out, try exploring patience and faith instead.

Patience of Being with People: Taking the time to be fully engaged with others and listening deeply to what they have to say gives you the opportunity to create more meaningful relationships. Truly be patient with the people around you and they will be much more likely to support your vision. Of course, that doesn’t always mean you have to move slowly… sometimes you’ll still be able to play a fast paced game!

Patience Fosters Creativity: Studies have shown that productivity balanced with innovation and creativity are the keys to sustainable business success. In business, the term “patient capital” means that investors are willing to take time to support a business in creating breakthrough products and services operations.

Anything that you could possibly dream of accomplishing is possible with enough time and an undying commitment.

Take the time to listen here and find out more about just how powerful patience can be.

Kickstart Your Confidence

“The man of genius inspires us with a boundless confidence in our own powers,”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I may not be a genius for acknowledging the boundless confidence we should all have in our own powers, but whether you find yourself in a position of leadership, executive management, business development or career advancement, confidence plays a pivotal role!

Webster’s dictionary points to three aspects of confidence:
1) A feeling of consciousness about one’s powers,
2) The quality or state of being certain, and
3) A relation of trust

Now, let me address these aspects in a more practical sense so that you can kickstart your confidence today.

1) Preparation: As we have discussed in the last couple of weeks, knowing what you’re expected to know, and being ready to improvise and create when looking towards the future, can unlock your confidence in both situations.

2) Practicing Faith: Having confidence and belief in the wholeness and interconnectedness of everything. Outcomes may not always turn out exactly the way we expect, however, if our commitment to values and purpose is unbreakable, overall our fulfillment and success follows.

3) Practicing Trust: We as human beings have the capacity for infinite creativity and resourcefulness. Success is just around the corner if you maintain confidence in your own capacity to tap into this immense potential.

Listen here for more thoughts on how being confident can set you up for business success and prosperity.

Preparation vs. Improvisation – Part Two

In continuing our two-part miniseries, our attention shifts to improvisation and its worthwhile role in business interactions.

Improvisation becomes possible as a complement to preparation when you have a clear sense of intention for every interaction and, in fact, for your whole purpose in your business pursuits. Whether you are in a role fostering transformational leadership, engaging with new and existing clients in business development or targeting an important career transition, it’s important to balance the following two intentions:

1) What do you want to create for the other people involved, and
2) What is it that you want to create or request for yourself?

Having the confidence that you have the capacity to fulfill these two central intentions, regardless of the situation or interaction you find yourself in, will lead to a future of greater accomplishment and prosperity.

Listen here for more inspiration in the realm of improvisation, and how having a clear sense of intention can go a long way in determining business success.

Actually, you may be surprised to discover that this segment is almost entirely improvised!

Advanced Leadership Essentials for Rain Makers

Whether you are involved in business development, transformational leadership (engaging people to follow your ideas) or you are transitioning between careers and networking with people to help you secure a new position, these three leadership essentials can greatly enhance your rainmaking capabilities.

1) Having An Extraordinary Presence With People – Be engaged and act in the moment! How can you make a difference now?

2) Listening For and Making Requests – Listening attentively for any needs that you can fulfill or opportunities that you can add value to. Then, what do you believe can be done to make a difference?

3) Leadership and Involvement – Getting involved in the community where your clients and contacts circulate and developing worthwhile relationships.

The opportunity to improve your network and grow your relationships is there. Listen here to find out more about what you can do to take advantage of this opportunity and become a better Rainmaker this week.

Preparation VS. Improvisation

In this two part series, we will explore the value and importance of both elements in being confident in your communication.

Whether you are expanding your capacity for transformational leadership, working to serve and sell to clients in a business development role or are navigating a career move, you will always be more confident if you are well prepared.

Unless you’re in the doctor’s office, it’s not very good to get caught with your pants down.

So preparation includes being ready for two eventualities:
a) Knowing

b) Not knowing.

It’s important to know what you’re supposed to know – what you’re expected to know. As a leader in your field, it helps to be an expert and be ready to answer the likely questions that might be asked of you. If some answers are frequently changing, like market prices and news of the day, it’s wise to set up a way to keep those updated answers handy.

What happens if someone asks you a curve ball, finding a question that happens to elude you beyond your already thorough preparation. If that happens, it’s good to be prepared to confidently answers honestly, “I don’t know…” Listen to this podcast for more on what to say in that situation.

Welcome! The purpose of this blog-cast is to provide thoughtful perspectives on leadership, team dynamics and peak performance for leaders and top producers. You'll start every week with savvy, upbeat and focused insights every Monday (read and/or listen) to produce exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

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